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Claxton Dietetic Solutions Articles

Seasonal Affective Disorder-- Nutritional Intervention
As I pick my kids up from daycare now a days, the sky is already beginning to darken. I look to my watch to check the time and see it’s only 4:30 in the afternoon! Night comes much sooner than it has in the past and the temperatures are slowly creeping lower and lower. These two pieces of our changing environment can bring about a sadness or malaise in some people. It can get you feeling down. If you feel this way 1) you are not crazy and 2) you are not alone. This feeling of seasonal sadness actually has a name and effects many people each year. Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that tends to recur during the fall/winter seasons each year with relief from symptoms occurring with the arrival of the spring/summer seasons. Symptoms are the same as major depressive disorder and can include, fatigue, loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities, changes in appetite and/or sleep patterns. The risk of developing SAD is higher for those who live further from the equator, those with a personal or family history of depression and females in general. There are multiple ways to go about treatment for SAD including medication, light therapy, psychotherapy and nutritional supplementation. Diet alone is not powerful enough to treat SAD but can be an effective supplemental treatment. Below I have outlined a few foods components that can help boost your mood/combat depressive symptoms. Omega 3 fatty acids Omega 3 fatty acids help strengthen the synapses or connections between neurotransmitters. They also have a positive effect on dopamine and serotonin, which have a calming nature. Sources that contain the highest levels of omega-3 fatty acids include flax seeds, walnuts, and salmon. Whole Grains Whole grains are those that contain, you guessed it, the whole grain. Meaning parts of the grain have not been removed during processing. Processed grains/sugar may give you a little happy boost at first, but too much sugar will create a spike in blood sugar and then a crash after a sugar high is over, making you feel worse than before. Examples of whole grains include whole grain bread, pasta, brown/wild rice, beans, bulger, oats, quinoa. Dairy and Active Cultures Rich in calcium and vitamin D, which help reduce fatigue, repair cell damage and stabilize mood. Fermented foods with active cultures contain probiotics (healthy bacteria) which have shown to reduce anxiety and stress hormones. Examples of dairy and active cultures include:-Milk, Yogurt, Cheese, Kefir, Kimchi, Pickled Vegetables Bananas Bananas contain tryptophan, which has a calming effect on the body like serotonin. It also contains carbohydrates from natural sugars and potassium to help fuel your brain. Magnesium, another present nutrient, may reduce anxiety and improve sleep— two symptoms of seasonal depression. I hope you are enjoying this season free from SAD, but if you are one of those who are suffering please try some of these nutritional interventions to supplement your other therapies! Check out the recipe page for a depression fighting meal/snack (depending on your hunger level)!
Navigating the Holidays When A Loved One Has An Eating Disorder
Thanksgiving and Christmas tend to be food focused holidays. One primary example is the list of my past few blog posts! It’s very easy to get wrapped up into what, when and how much we are eating this time of year. It’s equally easy to forget about a special population of people who struggle with the thought of food and weight…those with eating disorders. Thanks to our diet crazed, weight focused society, the percentage of people with diagnosed eating disorders is on the rise. And I’m betting that you even know someone personally who struggles with an eating disorder. Whether they are a family member, friend, client or co-worker many people are struggle with eating disorders nowadays and may even be at your Thanksgiving table this Thursday. So how can you help? How can you navigate conversation topics and mealtimes when a loved one or acquaintance has an eating disorder? I have listed three tips below to help prepare you for these encounters. What Loved Ones Should Do: Avoid “good” and “bad” food talk: Try and avoid labeling foods as “good” or “bad.” Sentences like “I’m going to have to work this off later” or “my diet starts Monday” confirm your loved one’s false beliefs that certain foods can and should induce shame. Shift the focus away from food (at the table): Try and find conversation topics that are not about the food. Go around and ask everyone what they are thankful for, talk about everyone’s favorite fall activities, or voice school/work updates. This will help alleviate some of the mental stress your loved one may be experiencing at the table. Shift the focus away from food (after the meal): After the holiday meal is complete find an activity to do other than sitting in front of the TV. Post meal shame and overthinking are very common in those with eating disorders and one way to combat this is through distraction. Find an activity that involves your hands, and your mind, like playing a board game or crafting to help your loved one be present in the moment and not focus on potential ED thoughts in his/her mind. Lastly, remember, you are only one part of your loved one’s support system. Eating disorders are very complex illnesses and should be treated from a multidisciplinary standpoint. Be sure to involve your loved one’s therapist and/or dietitian prior to the main holiday gatherings to ensure a strong plan of care is in place. In light of taking the focus away from food I have decided to do something different on the recipe page this week. You will see a “recipe” for a DIY holiday door wreath on the recipe page this week. The “Ingredients” will be the materials needed for the craft. This would be a great way to shift the focus away from food post mealtime craft Thursday! Happy crafting!
Let's Party!
We are now at T minus 7 days until Thanksgiving and even less if you are participating in any “Friendsgiving” gatherings beforehand. Once Thanksgiving hits, your social calendar is going to switch into high gear as it fills with holiday office parties, church parties and family get-togethers with ALL the relatives; each side, every aunt, cousin and in law will have to be visited. Even as an introvert, socially celebrating the holiday season is one of my favorite things. To make things even better, I have discovered a way to enjoy all the parties without reaping any unwanted weight in the process. As dietitians, we are sure to field the question of “how do I maintain weight during the holiday season?!” I have created an acrostic to help you remember my basic tips towards weight maintenance during the holiday season. The acronym is PARTY because these tips are meant for when you (or your client) attend a party, gathering, potluck, etc. See below for further details! P: Peruse what’s offered Don’t go through the buffet line blind. This leads to piling more on your plate (some of which might not even sound good to you in the moment) and ultimately consuming more. Scan what’s all being offered first and decide what sounds best to you. A: Assess ACTUAL hunger level Become self-aware and determine how hungry you actually are. This will dictate the portion size you get of each food. Ideally you want to start eating when you are at about a three to four on a hunger scale of 1-10. Starting to eat when you are anywhere higher than a five will lead to overeating. Eat a snack before going to your said party if you need to keep your hunger at bay. R: Recognize when full (and stop). Just because it’s a party does not mean you have to overindulge. Many people attribute parties and the holiday season as a time to overdo everything (decorations, presents, food, you name it.) Remember that you can absolutely treat your self to delicious foods AND stop when you are full at the same time. Ideally, you want to stop eating when you are at about a 7 on a fullness scale of 1-10 T: TALK to those around you Parties are a full experience! And remember that the food is just one aspect of that experience. There will likely also be decorations, music and most importantly, OTHER PEOPLE! Talk to them. Engage in the experience around you. Y: Yield when going for second helpings I am not saying that you can not go back for second helpings at holiday parties. All I am saying is YIELD before you do. Pause for a minute and assess if you are actually still hungry OR if you are bored, anxious, etc. If you are experiencing one of the ladder emotions, try and deal with that specific emotion first before turning to food. If you are truly still hungry, please proceed to meet that hunger need. I hope this acrostic helps you enjoy the holiday season even more! Check out the recipe page for a delicious appetizer you can bring to any or all holiday parties you are invited to!